What about usability testing?

This week I’ve been doing some usability tests for my thesis. The test’s purpose is to evaluate the interfaces of:

The tests are going fine and I’ve already found some interesting things about those applications :).

But although things are going fine now it wasn’t easy to start. I had never done usability tests so I didn’t know where to start and what to do… Gladly I found some guidelines at usability.gov   and University of Texas at Austin that really helped me accomplish this task.

Ok, so the first thing I did was developing a test plan where I defined the test’s scope, purpose, scenarios and questions to be made at the beginning and end of each session. The test scenarios are task-based and during the sessions users are encouraged to express what are they feeling towards the interface they are using and their opinions about what could be improved and how.

About the questionnaires they are two. One that is made at the beginning of the session to trace the user’s profile and other that is made at the end of the session. This last questionnaire is based on the System Usability Scale (SUS) created by John Brooke and measures the users satisfaction with the software.

When I finish my tests I’m going to analyze the results and see what conclusions I can take from them. This task although it may seems pretty easy it is not. You have to evaluate lots of variables and the data is not always quantitative so I’m yet trying to figure out the best way of doing this.

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